Posts Tagged ‘career’

Story by Beth Bayless.

For many of us, an image of our life may be a path that goes to unexpected places as God nudges us in directions we had not planned. I believe this aptly describes Buddy Burgess’ road to ministry.

Buddy Burgess - A Life Responding to God's NudgesIn August, Buddy was preparing to retire as pastor of FBC’s Deaf Mission. I asked him “When you first started out, did you have any indication this is where you would end up?”

Buddy smiled and told me the story of being led by God to this place and this time. During much of the journey he did not see God’s specific plans until he arrived at his destination. But it was apparent that he trusted God along the way.

Buddy Burgess - A Life Responding to God's NudgesBuddy grew up on a farm near Spartanburg, SC. As a teen, one of his proudest moments was when his football team won its conference championship. Buddy had no plans for further education, and after graduation, began working in a cotton mill.

When he became involved in Pony League baseball (for boys 13 to 15 years old), he realized he wanted to be a coach. After two years at the mill, he enrolled in Spartanburg Junior College, a Methodist school. A required religion class made two lasting impressions on him. First, he used the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, which was much clearer than the King James Version he was used to. Second, the class required service in the community.

Buddy Burgess - A Life Responding to God's NudgesDuring his years at Spartanburg, a chance encounter led Buddy to the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind, where he was hired as an assistant to do hearing tests in the audiology department and provide training.

Buddy Burgess - A Life Responding to God's NudgesBy the time Buddy completed Spartanburg, he realized he needed a bachelor’s degree. He was accepted at Atlantic Christian College (now Barton College) in Wilson, NC. At ACC, Buddy majored in physical education. Later he changed his major to education of the deaf and finally settled on religion and philosophy as God’s plans for his life became clearer.

Buddy Burgess - A Life Responding to God's NudgesBuddy, who worked his way through college, jokes that he completed four years of college in only nine years. He often had two or three part-time jobs – working in a warehouse and as a teletype operator, audiologist assistant, and physical therapy assistant. At times he had to drop out for a quarter to earn enough money to continue. But even there God was working. A member of his home church offered both spiritual support and financial help with food and lodging. Then someone in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes provided a grant-in-aid for him. It was enough for Buddy to complete college.

Buddy Burgess - A Life Responding to God's NudgesDuring his years at ACC, Buddy realized God was nudging him toward the ministry. After graduation, he decided to work for a year before entering seminary. He became a full-time physical therapy assistant at the local hospital, where he met and soon married Ann Boswell.

During his last year at Southeastern Theological Seminary, the Home Mission Board (now the North American Mission Board) of the Southern Baptist Convention encouraged Buddy to consider a job as a minister to the deaf. This was not in Buddy’s plan but after he and Ann prayed for direction, he completed the application. Following graduation, Buddy was called as the first minister for the deaf at First Baptist Church, Memphis, TN.

Buddy Burgess - A Life Responding to God's NudgesLooking back, Buddy sees many instances where God nudged his choices of part-time jobs, schools and the people he met. Now as he looks forward to the next part of his walk with God, Buddy anticipates more time with his grandchildren, opportunities to travel including a 50th reunion with his high school football team, and a possible mission trip to Korea to lead a sports camp. He also anticipates more nudges and direction adjustments.

Watch a video about Buddy Burgess produced by Sean Cook and Allen Cumbia.

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Story by Erin Cumbia. Photos by Skyler Cumbia.

calloutIt’s a funny thing to grow up. Life moves on and familiar things change around you at an alarming pace. Even time itself seems to speed up.

I grew up at First Baptist Church and spent a great deal of time there in Youth group and other activities. I considered it a second home. Then I left Richmond for college.

Finding a New Place for MyselfIt was an odd feeling to come back after four years to something I had known and loved. With the exception of a fresh coat of paint and a few changes in decorations, the church building is much the same. However, the church itself has changed. Some familiar faces are missing and new ones have taken their place. Though I expected it to stand still in my absence, time in its ever-moving current had reshaped my church family. And I needed to find a new place for myself in its community.

Coming back to First Baptist Church as an adult has been a different experience and in some ways very challenging. I still felt welcomed and at home, but I was no longer one of the Youth. All those I had at one time considered my closest friends were no longer there. Some had moved on to new places and new jobs; others had simply gone in different directions. I found myself basically starting from scratch. To be honest it took me a while to settle in as I tried a couple of Sunday school classes that didn’t quite fit.

Finding a New Place for MyselfThen I found the Young Professionals, a group of young adults who don’t fit into the usual categories of young couples or married with kids. Our current class ranges from recent college graduates to those well established in their careers. The inevitable nature of this sort of class is that it grows and then declines as the members move on to other places in their life journeys. I happened to find the Young Professionals at the beginning of one of these cycles, and it has truly been a blessing to be involved in its life and growth over the past two years.

ss-class-collegeAside from the traditional Sunday morning study, The Young Professionals class has created a platform for its members to get involved in the life of our church. We have participated in service projects and formed a book study group during Lent. We have also spent countless hours together with potluck get-togethers and dinners out. The Young Professionals is a prominent spiritual foundation and support for me and is something I look forward to every week. I consider every one of the members a friend and am so thankful for the time, conversation, and community I have found in them.

I know that time will once again reshape First Baptist Church and the Young Professionals, but I am thankful for my community as it is now and know that it will continue to prepare me for the next part of my life journey.

Erin Cumbia

Erin Cumbia has been a part of First Baptist Church since birth and is a third-generation member. After graduating from Liberty University with a degree in Fashion Merchandising and Interiors she moved back to Richmond. She worked as a bridal consultant at Bella Rosa and is now seeking a new career direction. Erin is also very involved in the Young Professionals Class.


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